Today Amazon released a refresh of its Fire TV media player and mini-console. The original device was unveiled in April 2014 and the 2015 version sees some upgrades in the internal components and connectivity.
The biggest change is the upgrade from the original Snapdragon 600 to MediaTek's new MT8173 SoC. The MT8173 was originally announced at MWC this year and surprised a lot of people as the Taiwanese semiconductor vendor was the first to show off working prototypes with ARM's new Cortex A72 CPU core, and it seems the Fire TV is the first device to ship with the new SoC and CPU architecture. 
  Fire TV (2014) Fire TV (2015)
SoC Qualcomm APQ8064
Snapdragon 600
4x Krait 300 @ 1.7GHz

Adreno 320 @ 400MHz
MediaTek MT8173C
2x Cortex A72 @ 1989MHz
2x Cortex A53 @ 1573MHz

Power VR GX6250 600MHz
Storage 8GB 8GB + microSD
Connectivity 5.5 mm DC Jack
Type A HDMI 1.4b output, w/HDCP
Optical Audio (TOSLINK)
10/100 Ethernet
USB 2.0 Type A

2x2 MIMO
5.5 mm DC Jack
Type A HDMI 2.0 output, w/HDCP 2.2
10/100 Ethernet
USB 2.0 Type A

2x2 MIMO
Launch OS Fire OS 3.0 Fire OS 5.0

The new SoC is a 2x2 big.LITTLE configuration with 2 A72 cores clocked in at 1989MHz and 2 A53 cores at 1573MHz. The new CPUs should give a significant performance boost over the Krait 300 found in the 2014 variant.

The new SoC also allows for hardware HEVC decoding and Amazon is touting this as the main feature of the new SKU as it allows for halving of the required bandwidth to stream 1080p content or allows for 4Kp30 content playback. Alas it seems 4Kp60 decoding is not supported and thus makes new Fire TV not quite as future proof as one would have hoped. The new unit comes with a new HDMI 2.0 port sporting HDCP 2.2 compatibility and allows connecting a TV or monitor at up to 2160p at 24/25/30/50/60Hz.

An important change in the connectivity is the dropping of the TOSLINK optical audio out connector in favour of a microSD slot. Also added is 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity, still sporting a 2x2 MIMO antenna configuration.

As an accessory to the Fire TV, Amazon also released a new gaming controller, aptly named the Amazon Fire Game Controller. The controller is equipped with the same voice-control functionality that the Fire Voice Remote comes with, thus being able to use replace it as the main controller/remote.

The new Fire TV starts shipping on the 5th of October for $99.99 without the controller or $139.99 for the Gaming Edition which contains both the media play and the controller. Amazon also now releases the original Fire TV Stick with the Voice Remote for $59.99.

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  • frankiepoon - Thursday, September 17, 2015 - link

    No 4K60p, it fails!
  • hans_ober - Thursday, September 17, 2015 - link

    Wanna see the single-core performance on this thing!
  • Valkyrierie - Friday, September 18, 2015 - link

    Also, no ability to run Crysis? Disgusting! I can't believe they're selling something like this for 100 bucks.
  • Stan11003 - Thursday, September 17, 2015 - link

    Is there any 4K60p content? Movies are filmed at 24P and TV at 30P, The Hobbit was rare 48. To me 2160p up to 30fps is just fine for a $99 box. I really don't think 60P will be coming that soon.
  • Samus - Friday, September 18, 2015 - link

    There will be content, but will there be bandwidth. You need ~50Mbps to stream 4Kp60, perhaps 25Mbps if HEVC is 100% efficient at decoding (it varies since darker scenes require less bandwidth, and faster/brighter scenes require more bandwidth.)

    Either way, this thing not supporting 4Kp60 isn't a deal breaker. There isn't any content yet, and for the most part, 80-90% of the population doesn't have the bandwidth to stream it.
  • zepi - Friday, September 18, 2015 - link

    Sport is already captured at 60p and looks amazing. NHL gamecenter had some unofficial tests on their streaming platform for 60p content and it looked amazing.

    I'd guess 2160p60 using H.265 should be fine with about 20mbit, and probably look decent even a bit lower.

    More FPS -> less delta between frames -> less data needed per B-frame.
  • quiksilvr - Friday, September 18, 2015 - link

    You know you can just watch that at "only" 1080p and get the 60fps if you care about framerate that much.
  • frankiepoon - Tuesday, September 29, 2015 - link

    I got 2TB of Japan and Korea 4K TS which are in 4K60p 10bit! It plays fine with Nvidia Shield Android TV! 4K 60p will become main stream.
  • faizoff - Thursday, September 17, 2015 - link

    I have the Fire TV stick that was $19 on release. Hands down the best value for money TV box out there. Being a prime member helps by leaps and bounds. Don't think I'll need to get the new ones for at least another couple of years when I decide to buckle for a 4K TV.
  • anactoraaron - Thursday, September 17, 2015 - link

    The entire fire lineup has been refreshed, not just the fire tv.

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